Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fake Academic Journals

Via Inside Higher Ed, this warning from the American Historical Society:

The AHA Professional Division urges members to be aware of an increasingly common suspicious email targeting scholars in a variety of disciplines. The email consists of an offer by a supposed scholarly journal to publish a conference paper. Typically, the initial email contains grammatical errors and unprofessional language. The respondent who submits a paper for “peer review” soon learns that the paper has been accepted, but that there is a “service charge” (for reviewing, editing and printing) that can run into the many hundreds of dollars. These solicitations have been sent from “editors” of journals that do not exist.  Scholars who respond to such solicitations, and then revise a paper in the hope of having it published, run the risk of wasting their precious time—and money. The Professional Division recommends members diligently investigate the legitimacy of offers they receive via email from unknown sources.

My immediate thought is, "Who the hell would ever be fooled by such a thing?" Sure, people may be desperate to publish something anywhere they can, but falling for this requires not even bothering to see if a journal they've never heard of is actually real, especially after an email that is clearly written by someone with no grammar skills. Then after you are told there is a large fee, you keep going anyway without checking at that point to see whether the Journal of Political Science Pontification is real? Doing that checking requires something like 30 seconds of Googling.

I feel like I must be missing something.


RAJ 8:09 PM  

It only makes sense if you are either a very naive academic (think young person-- and some of these I have seen advertise themselves as Open Access, which for some of my young colleagues is ideologically desireable) or someone who is in a field where sheer numbers of publications somehow counts. Because in any real academic discipline, at review, you or reviewers would have to comment on the place of the journal in the field. I suppose there might be some professional fields? where this is true-- but I cannot imagine the target is anyone other than the most vulnerable among us.

Greg Weeks 8:52 PM  

That makes the most sense--you know it is BS, you know someone else might catch it as BS, but you feel it is worth the risk anyway, even for money, because of even a small chance it will count in your favor.

George Ville 9:33 AM  

The money aspect is not as big a red flag as it once was. Even university presses are now charging to publish books. I know someone who submitted to a legitimate academic press, and they wanted to charge $2,000 to publish the manuscript. As for why people don't do their homework about the journals, that I can't answer.

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